Friday, November 7, 2008

The Passing of Proposition A (Missouri)

One issue from this past election that I should probably address if the passage of Proposition A here in Missouri. For those of you who don't live in Missouri, Prop A was a ballot initiative that will:
  • repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling;
  • prohibit any future loss limits;
  • require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old;
  • restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built;
  • increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%;
  • create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the "Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund";
  • and require annual audits of this fund?
One might think that, since I am going into education that I would have automatically supported it. The truth of the matter was that I couldn't make up my mind. On the on hand, I am very excited that it may bring over $100 million to public school funding in Missouri. The schools will definitely need it, as they always do. But there were definitely problems that I could not overlook. For starters, the law will essentially set up a monopoly for existing casinos in the state of Missouri, and not allow other Casinos to be built on the Missouri River that might economically benefit different towns. In addition, the money raised for schools is expected to benefit more rural school districts instead of larger ones (i.e. Kansas City, St. Louis). While rural districts deserve more funding, the larger cities are just as deserving, if not more so. Let me be clear that whatever doubts I had about the proposition had nothing to do with loss-limits or the moral questions of gambling itself. I have no problem with taxing vice to benefit public schools, and if someone blows all of their money gambling, that is their own fault.

In the end, I left the Prop A part of my ballot blank because I believe that when someone truly cannot make up their mind about something in an election (as I couldn't here), their is no point in forcing yourself to take a side. I apologize to anyone who is offended by my indecisiveness. Now I kind of know what it is like to be one of those undecided voters you see on cable news panels that seem so damn clueless. I would like to think of myself as more informed than then though.

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